I have been fortunate enough to receive offers from four different companies after taking a week of vacation days to interview with about 12 companies in total. What a scheduling task indeed.
Two of the companies I have already disqualified due to very low pay. By that, I mean it would be a 30% cut. One company (let's call it Company A) is offering a package which equates to about a 8% cut from my current salary, but with potential to move into a bigger role in the future. I think I'd enjoy working there too (compared to my current job) but I didn't expect to be hit with a pay cut of all things. A second offer from another company (Company B) is looking good, offering a comparable pay (to my current job), benefits, and vacation, but most importantly, a much better work/life balance.
My intent is to go with Company B, as the benefits package is too good to turn down, it can help me take care of outstanding bills, and spend more time with my family.
Company A has already maintained that there is no room for negotiation when I brought it up. I personally don't think trying to force their hand with a counter-offer in hand would work well for me, as I don't want them to pull the offer, since I'd be almost willing to take such a cut due to dissatisfaction with my current employer. They've also asserted that they can't change their offer, as HR has "tied their hands".
So, to the question: when I call Company A in a few days to decline their offer, should I just provide the canned useless polite answer (ie: "Thank you, but I found an opportunity I can't pass, it is more in line with my long term goals", etc), or should I be honest and tell them that both companies have a lot of potential, but it was a question of numbers, and one company is offering me a pay raise rather than a pay cut.
My own advice to myself is to leave ego and emotions out of the equation, and if I feel a bit smug when debating what to say, I should seek outside advice. What are your thoughts? Give the usual canned answer so I don't offend them at all, or be polite and honest?